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USAG-Miami/USSOUTHCOM Motorcycle Safety Training October 2, 2020

On October 2nd, 2020, a group of 16 active duty military motorcycle enthusiasts took on the challenge of learning to take their two-wheeled machines beyond their normal riding experience and limits at the Homestead Air Reserve Base. They learned new skills to complement their riding abilities by learning the proper techniques for slow speed maneuvering, u-turns and much more building their confidence to ride their motorcycles the way they were designed to be ridden.

Tim, Marianne and Ken are briefing the riders before starting the class
What a way to start the day! After dropping the motorcycle, Tim Hamilton takes advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate one of the most basic of techniques to pickup your motorcycle when dropped.

The first part of the class taught the group how to use the Friction Zone by executing an exercise called Slow Race. The exercise consists in going in a straight line by using the friction zone while maintaining proper rider/motorcycle coordination.

Riders are getting ready for their first exercise: The Slow Race

Next, the Ride Like Pro Miami team coached the riders on the Slow Cone Weave. This exercise required the riders to weave through the cones placed at 14 and 12 feet apart while using what they learned from the first exercise, the use of the friction zone and rear brake and added vision related techniques. The tendency most riders have, as most do, is to look down at the cones as they weave through them. After several runs, the riders were weaving through the cones like pros!

Here is the group weaving through the cones like Pros!

The exercise increased in difficulty by adding a u-turn within a 30 foot squared section of the course. Here, the riders start to combine techniques learned from the previous exercises where friction zone, eye and head coordination and rear brake are key to perform the turn.

Here you can see the red cones delimiting the u-turn space with the green cones as the entry/exit gate for the exercise.

Next, the riders were challenged by learning to weave through two sets of cones, parallel with 30 feet separation between cones and offset by 12 feet. This exercise is called the Offset Cone Weave. This exercise is a great way to increase their confidence to lean the motorcycle at slow speeds with proper counter balancing technique, eye/head coordination, rear brake use and overall lose the fear of leaning the motorcycle.

Marianne Hamilton briefs the riders as they enter the Offset Cone Weave Course.

From there, the group went on to practice other exercises using the same techniques. The feedback from the team was great, the skills improvement was very noticeable but even more important, the riders walked away with new skills that are key for surviving the mean streets of South Florida.

We would like to extend a special thanks to the sponsors of the event (and we hope we got all the names and ranks correct!):

  • USAG-Miami Safety and Occupational Health Manager:  Mr. Jose R. Melendez
  • USAG-Miami – Directorate of Emergency Service (DES):  Mr. Andes Garcia (SUPV. Security Spec.)
  • USSOUTHCOM Motorcycle Mentor:  SFC John R. Gutierrez (folks, thank his wonderful wife for the delicious pretzels!!)
  • Green Knight Military Motorcycle Club, Chapter 95:  Mr. Todd A. Peach, Mr. Oscar L. Ortiz, Mr. Eddie L. Richardson, & Mr. Jose L. Torres-Cruz
  • USSOUTHCOM Commandants Office (COL Alexander C. Murray & 1SG Moises Sotomayor)
  • SOCSOUTH Safety Specialist Mr. William “Jody” Baker
From left to right: Ken Melhado, Tim Hamilton, Marianne Hamilton, SFC John R. Gutierrez, Todd Peach, Jose R. Melendez

Congratulations to all participants: PO2 Sonia Lopez, MAJ Carlos Calderon, SGT Antonio Escandon, CDR Eric Pare, SSG Guillermo Oeding, CW4 Teflon Wint, SFC Norman Vickers, MAJ Craig Zoellner, PO2 Remus Cristobal, LTC Andres Munera, SFC Tracy Zimmerman, MAJ Jesus Raimundi III, SPC David Kesicki, Mr. David Paul, SFC Robert Grubaugh, SFC John R. Gutierrez.


Couples Therapy – with care…Happy Valentine’s Day!

So you decided on a romantic motorcycle ride with your partner to one of those awesome destinations we enjoy in South Florida. Most motorcycle enthusiasts will opt for that special ride down to the Keys, a cruise up north to West Palm Beach, a quick trip along US27 to Café 27 or some other popular biker restaurant/bar destination. What a great feeling! You grab something to eat with your partner you decide to have a beer or two. Hmm, is that the best choice of beverage to wash down that great burger?

Fact: According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes are 2.5 times more likely to have consumed alcohol than passenger vehicle drivers.

Here is where you need to weigh your options and think what 1 or 2 beers can translate to. Some riders think that because of their size, height, or college experience in drinking, they can handle alcohol without a problem and ride a motorcycle. Now, If you want to experience drinking and riding, you don’t even have to drink. Just try this experiment:

– Spin around 10-15 times as fast as you can with your arms out as you probably did when you were a kid. This is guaranteed to get you dizzy!
– Immediately, put your arms out as if you are riding and try to walk a straight line.

How did that feel? Your head and arms lack basic coordination with your body in addition to experiencing difficulties trying to walk straight. Drinking and riding gives you a similar experience. Remember, the motorcycle will go in the direction of your eyesight or where you are looking. So imagine feeling like this riding a motorcycle?

It is also true that everyone’s tolerance for alcohol is different but riding is not the best time to test how much you can drink before feeling tipsy. Remember, not only are you putting yourself at risk but also that special person that is sitting behind you and trusts in your riding skills to get them home safe.

Ride smart, safe and Happy Valentine’s Day!

Setting the tone for 2020: It is all about enhancing your skills

The picture speaks a thousand words. Tim took this picture right before the class started. Any rider that sees this picture can actually guess the weather this time of the year: in the 70’s, sunny and a great day to ride!

This is exactly what Artem, David, Devin, Gilberto, JC, Julian, Martin and Neil experienced on Saturday, January 18. The day could not have been better to learn and enhance your skills without humidity and heat. Many of them have been riding for years but lacked advanced training past their initial motorcycle endorsement class.

Lots of the techniques required for effective and safe motorcycle riding can be perceived as counter intuitive, the reason many students struggle at the beginning. However, practice might or might not make perfection but it sure does enhance your skills.

The Slow Cone Weave is the simplest of exercises in the class and it allows us to assess rider skills:

  • Use of friction zone
  • Ability to perform full lock turns
  • Level of fear to lean the motorcycle
  • Proper braking technique for maneuvers (rear brake feathering)
  • Head/eye coordination (the motorcycle goes where you are looking!)

As the class progresses throughout the day, you can see how rider skills and confidence increase after 3-4 hours of twisting and turning on their motorcycles.
Students practicing the “Iron Cross” – 4 u-turns in one exercise.

One of the biggest rewards for us as instructors is to see our students excel in these exercises, knowing that they are going back out to the mean streets of South Florida with skills that can get them out of trouble and avoid injury.

Remember, these skills are perishable. If you don’t practice them you will lose them. Try to practice at least once a month and as a recommendation, take the class at least twice per year, not because you have to learn something new but because we can easily assess if you are using the proper technique and to continue to polish up your motorcycle skills even further.

Avoiding a motorcycle crash

Learning to ride a motorcycle is exciting and very rewarding. Riders have different reasons to learn to ride such as bucket list item, cheap transportation, recreational purposes, midlife crisis, ego, etc. The list can go on and on. However, learning to ride does not make you an expert at crash avoidance. As a matter of fact, understanding what needs to be done to avoid a crash is easy, mastering the art of obstacle/crash avoidance is a lifetime learning process and as the old saying goes, “practice makes perfection”, does apply to these lifesaving skills.

In the following video, two riders demonstrate many of the maneuvers many of you have already learned with Tim and Marianne if you have taken the Ride Like A Pro class with them. The difference is that the exercises get much tighter. Cones are closer (for the cone weave,) and spaces are smaller (u-turns,) requiring much more discipline and alertness. This is what makes the difference between a good rider and an experienced rider. This is the Ride Like A Pro Advanced class.

Check out Jerry’s latest video titled “2 riders that know how to avoid a motorcycle crash” – enjoy!

Training America’s finest!
Military service mark of the United States Army.svg

The United States Army is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. (Source: Wikipedia)

On October 4, 2019, the United States Southern Command, located in Doral, Florida, held a “Safety Stand Down” event and invited Ride Like A Pro – Miami to train ten (10) of America’s finest in the 3 basic techniques used by motorcycle police officers to maneuver motorcycles at slow speeds.

To kickoff the event, we had two (2) outstanding motormen from The City of Doral Police Department address the students and demonstrate some of the techniques they were about to learn.

City of Doral Police Motormen addressing the students.

Right after the demonstration, our uniformed students were eager and ready to hit the range. As in most classes, the slow cone weave exercise gave the students a good flavor of slow maneuvering and dipping their motorcycles back and forth. As part of building up to more complex maneuvers, a u-turn was added to the exercise to build more confidence for the remaining exercises.

Right after gaining some confidence in this exercise, the group was ready for the offset cone weave. The picture speaks for itself. The group was quickly learning the three techniques.

Next, riders were ready for the intersection exercise. Here is where everything they learned earlier came to play. Our Instagram page has videos of all the students performing the maneuver (see below).

Throughout the class there were many great comments from the riders expressing how much they appreciated learning these techniques to make them better and safer riders considering that many of them use their motorcycles as primary vehicles and exposes them to Miami’s infamous traffic!

We would like to thank the United States Southern Command and the event sponsors, US Army Executive Officer Oscar Ortiz, US Army Colonel José E. Solís and The Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club, Chapter 95.

From left to right: Executive Officer Oscar Ortiz, Colonel José E. Solís
and Tim Hamilton from Ride Like a Pro Miami

Green Knights Military Motorcycle Club, Chapter 95


Why lowering the motorcycle is a mistake

Motorcycle manufacturers’ (Harley-Davidson, Honda, Yamaha, Indian, etc.) engineers spent countless hours getting the ride height/maneuverability compromise for your motorcycle to perform optimally. Why would you want to change that?

Riders gravitate towards the idea of lowering a motorcycle for many reasons, the main one being the ability to support the motorcycle at a stop with your feet completely flat on the ground. Others lower the motorcycle for looks.

In this video, Ride Like A Pro’s Jerry “Motorman” Palladino and Donna Palladino will focus on how you can actually accomplish getting your feet closer to the ground without lowering the motorcycle. Enjoy!

Click here if you cannot see video
Motorcycle weight: NOT A FACTOR!

(cover picture: Jacquie Lopez, July 21st, 2019 class)

So you decide you are ready to buy a new motorcycle, want to return to riding or want to upgrade your current ride. You build up courage and head over to your local motorcycle dealer. Congratulations! You have taken the first step towards an eternal life of fun and weekend riding. But wait! you have to try out your new future motorcycle before you buy, right?

So at this point, you honed in on a particular large motorcycle and the dealer hones in on your intentions. The dealer prepares the motorcycle, gets you a shiny fluorescent vest and takes you for a test ride, side by side with him/her riding on another motorcycle. All of the sudden, you realize you need to make a u-turn on a 700-900 lb. motorcycle you have never ridden before, and you are embarrassed to let the dealer know you cannot make that u-turn he or she just did in that amount of space (24 feet – the standard lane width in the United States is 12 feet.)

Jerry Palladino demonstrates the “Foot Dragger” u-turn
Don’t belong to this club!!!!

Here is how most people process the situation (this actually happened to me):

– I am riding an unfamiliar motorcycle
– The motorcycle weighs a ton! (actually, you are riding 2/5 of a ton assuming 800 lb. motorcycle – for the math geeks!)
– I am going to fall if I turn and this will be very embarrassing
– Oh no! The dealer turned and is leaving me behind. What do I do?

…..I was thinking all this while duck walking the motorcycle in the middle of US-1 in Miami, FL (if you live in Miami and ride motorcycles, you have probably figured out who the dealer is…)

So now you decide that the big motorcycle is not for you yet or you are brave enough to go ahead and buy the motorcycle and pray you never have to make a u-turn in a busy street (or empty!) Fear no more. Maneuvering a heavy motorcycle is not about the ability to handle the weight but to understand the proper use of the friction zone (which you learned when you got the endorsement,) posture, head and eye positioning and the rear brake. Remember, you are not carrying the motorcycle so weight is not a factor.

Don’t be a member of the Foot Draggers Club! – Learn to Ride Like A Pro!

Ricci Knighten – July 21st 2019 class

What is wrong with this picture

Group riding or riding in a “Pack” is very cool to see but what do can you see when you analyze the picture of a group riding Tail of the Dragon? From experience, I can tell you that when another vehicle is coming head-on, there is a split second where the decision you make can make you or break you, literally!

Personally, I always expect a big semi or RV coming around a blind corner since we are talking about Deals Gap. By the time you see the vehicle, if you are in the proper lane, position and speed, you will be able to enjoy that memory! If you happen to be either going too fast (above speed limit), too close (as shown in the picture), or crossing the yellow line, you might find yourself in a lot of trouble. Avoid it.

Remember, you can find joy in riding if you follow riding rules, practice safe distance, proper equipment, proper lane positioning and most of all, proper technique!

Picture credit:

Learn the techniques…on a bicycle!

If it has one wheel in the front and one wheel in the back then it has the same dynamics! Some riders might be afraid to drop their motorcycles while learning the techniques so if you have a bicycle, you can get a feel for the technique….

In the original post titled “Afraid to lean your motorcycle? Try this tool” (06/23/2019) by Jerry “The Motorman” Palladino, he states that, “Since a motorcycle turns by leaning, you must get over your fear of leaning. The easiest way to get over that fear, is to practice leaning on a bicycle.


Road construction and the uneven pavement

Always be aware when there is road construction. Here is an example on the Florida Turnpike of uneven pavement. Always use extra caution when going up on the higher side. This is very difficult to see at night. Some real life motorcycle crashes come from uneven surfaces. This is easy to see with the two different pavement colors, many times it is the same color and not noticeable.